Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’

It’s tough to find something to gush over in November. Even for me. And I’m a pushover of legendary proportions. In other seasons, I can palpitate over a dandelion (how did dandelions earn such a bad rap?). But somehow, November leaves me numb. November is out in the cold. November is limping along with little hope of uplifting for another 4 months or more. And this year was no exception. November was living up to its reputation as blahsville. Then an old friend arrived.

I’m speaking about Jack Frost, of course. He visited with a vengeance this morning. We’re talking a sea of diamonds all glistening in the dawn light. We’re talking sparkle. We’re talking jewels. Any leaf is artwork (see? what did I say about pushover?). But edged in frost, Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’ is transformed.

That’s the alchemy of autumn. Okay, ‘Berggarten’ is handsome at any given moment. Although I have a hard time doing cartwheels over the ornamental salvias. (They come and go too quickly for me — does this happen to anyone else? Today they’re in flower, tomorrow they’re seedy.) But edible Salvia officinalis is another story. And of the edible sages, ‘Berggarten’ is a two thumbs up.

Its leaves are much wider and denser than the species. Not only that, but they clothe the stems up and down without self-stripping (ever notice that the species generally runs around bare naked from the head down? It’s embarrassing really). ‘Berggarten’ is more blue/green and tough-as-nails hardy. Plus it tends to be evergreen. Which shakes down to a harvest throughout the year. Fellow vegetarians take note: If you thought that sage is for meat only, you should try the sage leaf pasta that Michael Walek made for me last summer using whole sage leaves frizzled quickly in oil…memorable…there must be recipe somewhere, he says it’s an Italian mainstay.

And really, ‘Berggarten’ provides plenty of leaves for any type of application. ‘Tis the season to count our blessings. So here’s to old faithful friends like Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’ which is still going strong. It’s hope. It’s courage. It’s delicious. And its brave heart can (should) come to a garden near you.

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15 Responses to Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’

  1. kate swift says:

    Beautiful! How come I don’t have that? My favorite salvia is Discolor. I found it at Sunny Border many years ago, then, this year, at Twombly’s. I bought it all. Unfortunately, It’s not hardy here but so awesome, it’s worth it.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Hey Kate! So glad you stopped by = Let me introduce you to everyone = Kate is a cut flower grower par excellence. Really = I met Zinnia Queen Red Lime (and so many other beauties) first at her place — Cedar Farm Wholesale in Ghent, NY. She grows the most gorgeous cuts in the world. Possibly the universe.
      You win, Kate = I forgot about the black flowering, silver foliaged S. discolor when I was dissing the ornamental salvias. If you’re growing it, does that mean it makes a great cut? I bet ‘Berggarten’ would be dynamite in bouquets and really, it goes through winter unscathed. You could cut it in March, I bet.

      • kate swift says:

        Gee, thanks. I’m blushing. I DO cut several of the salvias and they all hold up well. I’ll pick up some ‘Berggarten’ in the spring and try it. The perennial salvias are tricky to cut in the fall because they hate going into winter with bare feet but, don’t seem to mind a summer trim as long as they have time to regrow. Kinda like Roses.

        • Tovah Martin says:

          I KNOW you’re going to love ‘Berggarten’ = it hardly needs water to hold up beautifully. And the picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s a whole different animal than the species or even ‘Purpurascens’. Still chugging along right now. And in spring it looks like a million before anything else (but bulbs) is happening. Plus it’s readily available. I got mine at the local health food store! Also available wholesale through Gilberties.

  2. Lisa from PA says:

    Tovah~ Your previous post on Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’ had me checking my “wish list” papers of seasons past. ‘Early Amethyst’ had been on my list but I wasn’t sure where to put it, getting a bit crowded in my beds of late. I am hereby moving it to the top of the list for next spring and will ‘make’ room or create some new beds to host this beauty. I can’t get over the berries~ they’re unreal! In this post regarding Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’, I am in awe of the chunkiness of the leaves! Is that what they really look like or is your camera have a ‘plump’ lens? I’ll look into that one as well. Glad you are back online and posting- missed reading your comments and seeing the beautiful pictures from your property. And Kate~ Great website- wish I lived closer to you, I’d come by every day to check out what’s ready to be picked!

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Hey Lisa! I got back into the blog groove as soon as I could — especially to link with avid gardeners like you. Missed you while I was swamped catching up on finishing the book. I love it = a plump lens! We all know that they make skinny lenses, but I just don’t think there’d be much of a market for plumpers except maybe in the veggie (and herb) realm. No…this hasn’t been manipulated. I couldn’t even capture the full beauty of the beast. And I just love the blue radiance of this guy — even on this gray morning. Callicarpa is a “must have.” It will change your life. I planted a whole scene around it.

  3. Lisa from PA says:

    Tovah~My husband and I were out driving around yesterday when I spied a callicarpa- probably ‘Early Amethyst’ on the property of a campground office building of all places! The berries were so purple and beautiful, even my husband said “Wow!”. The shade tree commision of my local borough planted an Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’ in my front yard two weeks ago, and I am thinking of planting a few ‘Early Amethyst’ as a hedgerow between the tree and the beginning of my backyard fence, the distance of about 30 feet. Could be a blast of color come next fall when the tree has some leaves on it.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      That’s brilliant, Lisa. Talk about cool coincidences. Lucky you with the amelanchier. My callicarpas are planted 4 feet apart (from center, actually) if that helps. Interestingly, the branches that were strewn from the storm with their berries still on are holding tight onto them in the compost pile!

  4. Lisa from PA says:

    Tovah~ On an unrelated topic, just clicked onto the 2012 Phila Flower Show website and saw you are listed as a lecturer on Saturday March 10 (11:30am), all about “The New Terrarium”! Congratulations! You’ll have a great audience! Don’t know which day I will be there, but I usually go by bus with my garden club. 🙂

    • Tovah Martin says:

      I can’t wait for the Phila Flower Show! Thank you so much for mentioning it, Lisa. I hear that Jerry Fritz of Linden Hill will have his snowdrop bonanza again this year. Tell you what = if you go before I get there on the weekend, could you scope it out for us and report the hotspots? So much Show, so little time…

  5. Lisa from PA says:

    Will do! 🙂

  6. I am a big fan of ornamental salvias,( I only grow one edible ), and this year I resolved to learn something about the genus so I checked a book out of the library , but for the life of me I could not keep my eyes open to read it no matter what time of day I picked it up. I don’t know if that says something about the particular book ..or me! Anyway, I planted Salvia nemerosa “Amethyst” this spring and boy did that baby bloom, non-stop starting with the iberis and continuing through mums until a hard frost with only one very short break when I cut it back mid-summer.
    My others can be so-so about re-bloom but this one is a keeper . Funny that the edible ones keep their leaves so fresh into the late fall and early winter. I would probably know why if I read that darn book. Thanks for the info on this one, your writing never puts me to sleep :0)

    • Tovah Martin says:

      You’ve got to give ‘Berggarten’ a try, Cheryl. It will fit right into the Burrow. Whole different animal than the species or any of the old edible versions which are pretty, but don’t tend to perennialize well (they live over winter, then perish in spring). But THANK YOU for the ‘Amethyst’ heads up. I was growing ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ which is a S. pratensis spin off rather than a nemerosa hybrid. Wanted it for its electric blue color. My beef with most ornamental salvias is that the flowers are so dark that they disappear in the garden. ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ is wonderful when the early summer bulbs are blooming. Then pppfffffff. It sputters to an ugly halt. ‘Amethyst’ flowers look very bright and noticeable. I’m sold.

  7. Ben Hutt says:

    That Sage Leaf Pasta that you talked about sounds Delicious! I’m always trying to find new vegetarian recipes that I like, so is there any chance you could post a link to the recipe somewhere, or possibly give the basics of cooking it here?


    • Tovah Martin says:

      Hey everyone, the comment above comes from my nephew currently in New Zealand. Where I bet they have a superabundance of sage. I had the dish in question at a friend’s house and it was done sans any sort of printed instructions whatsoever. Just seat of the pants cookin’. But I’ll see what I can find…By the way, we just had sage green beans and mushrooms for our holiday party yesterday. Missed you there, Ben.

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